The complicated and interconnected goaltender picture has started to sort itself out this weekend, as a much rumored extension has set the market for potential free agents and another signing will likely lead to the trade of a sought after Cup winner.
Laurent Brossoit and Brian Elliott re-signing with the Jets and Flyers (each for one-year at $1.5 million) may be an indicator that the cost for free agent backups or 1B goalies such as Thomas Greiss, Cam Talbot, Mike Smith, and Aaron Dell may be significantly less than expected because the market is flooded with options.
The Vegas Golden Knights confirmed the long rumored five-year, $25 million contract extension of goalie Robin Lehner. Along with Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom and Washington’s Braden Holtby, Lehner was expected to be the big goaltending target in free agency next week and with his $5 million AAV now official, it will likely be used as a price point for other free agent offers.
The Lehner signing also will add three-time Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury’s name to the list of availables. Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon may have to retain some of his $7 million salary, but the 35-year-old is still viewed by some as still capable of being a #1 starter.
The most impactful news may be the signing of Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry to a three-year, $10.5 million contract. The 25-year-old had a career-best 20-12-1 record, 2.43 GAA and .921 save percentage in 33 games with Pittsburgh in the final year of a two-year bridge deal and signed for slightly less than teammate Matt Murray did after winning the Cup in 2017.
With the signing of Jarry, it is expected that Murray will be shopped, since he will likely get more than his $3.75 million 2020 salary if he goes to arbitration. With Fleury and veteran Henrik Lundqvist added to the market, GM Jim Rutherford will not be able to ask for a first round pick for the 26-year-old.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be among a number of clubs interested in Murray. GM Kyle Dubas was interested in the Soo Greyhound alum going back to 2015, when he and Brendan Shanahan negotiated the Phil Kessel deal with Rutherford. The Leafs asked for Murray as part of the deal, but settled for Kasperi Kapanen as the prospect in the trade.
The Leafs are looking for an upgrade on Frederik Andersen, but just as important is finding a long-term answer in goal. Andersen is entering the final year of his contract and will likely ask for a raise if he has a good season. If the cost to acquire Murray is not prohibitive and Dubas can get him signed for the same or lower salary as Andersen, then this is an avenue that Toronto will likely pursue.
The Leafs announced the signing of forward Denis Malgin to a one-year contract extension for $700,000 (one-way) on Friday.
The 23-year-old was acquired last February for Mason Marchment and went scoreless in eight regular season games for the Maple Leafs. Malgin signing a league-minimum salary gives Toronto an inexpensive option as a potential fourth liner or extra forward.
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